Thursday, April 24, 2014

Gone Girls

Last week, the news broke a story of hundreds of schoolgirls abducted from their school in Nigeria by a militant faction called Boko Haram. The names and beliefs of these abductors aren't important at this point.

How can I say that? Because the government and military of Nigeria seem to think that the number of girls missing and their names and their innocence is not important. Media has more information on who these lunatics are and the things they are responsible for than they have on who these girls are and how many, exactly, are missing. Initial reports suggest 130 were missing. Some reports are over 200. Some reports mislead the public saying that all but 10 had returned.

You know what I know? It doesn't matter if it is one girl or 200. She and every "she" with her, deserves to be home, back in school and have her innocence unfettered. Is that going to happen? Probably not. The story here is about the crazies. The insurgents. Again, the militants and violent offenders who continue to terrorize and destabilize the countries they live in.

I was having coffee with a friend this morning and we were talking about the idea of a bunch of terrorists walking into our local school and stealing the entire class of girls. Would we talk about the lunacy and the terror? Of course we would. But, I would suggest that we would know each girls' name. Her family's feelings. Her achievements and the hole in the lives that her disappearance has caused. Why? Because we're more human? No. North Americans demand that of their media, regardless of the desire of privacy on the part of those affected. Which is better?

I'll tell you what is better. That girls could go safely to school and get an education. That countries and governments could stabilize without the ever present upset of terror and violence tipping the scales. And it would be better if we outside of Africa could remember that each of these girls is a daughter, a sister, a friend. A girl with a future and a name. A girl who went to school in her uniform in the morning and is still wearing it 5 days later, and we have no idea what she's been subjected to in the meantime.

We need to check ourselves. It's easy to say that "they're used to it" or "that happens so often in African countries" if that excuses our apathy even if it were true. What is true in North America is that there are school shootings on a far more regular basis than we would like to see but it doesn't diminish the pain when it's your child laying bleeding in his school library.

The world has been fixated on searches lately. The search for nearly 300 from a missing Malaysian Airlines flight. The search for over 200 in the waters where a Korean ferry sunk. Why aren't we demanding the same resources and international attention on the search for hundreds of missing, and known to be abducted, school girls in Nigeria. What are we saying about the worth of their lives?

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